2020 Census Count Impacts Programs for Georgia Families, Education, Health Care, Economic GrowthPrint This Post
Undercount could cost state billions of dollars in funding
As states across the nation prepare for the 2020 decennial census count, Georgia officials have begun to spread the word about the importance of an accurate count and the detrimental impact an undercount in Georgia would have on the state’s families and children.
The decennial census, which takes places every 10 years, requires a complete count of people of all ages, races, ethnic groups, citizens, and noncitizens residing in the United States. The count is used to annually distribute more than $675 billion in federal funds—and even more in state funds. The census determines the amount of money each state receives for programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, highway planning and construction, and the Pell Grant Program, among others.
Every Georgian counted in the 2010 census brought more than $1,600 to the state for a total of $15.88 billion in funding, according to the Georgia Municipal Association. An undercount in 2020 would result in an even higher per-person financial loss.
“Once the census count is in place, it is the template for the distribution of funds for the next 10 years,” said Vicki Mack, partnership specialist, Field Division, Atlanta Regional Office of the U.S. Census Bureau. “Every person undercounted equates to lost revenues for Georgia’s communities.”
An undercount could lead to overcrowded schools, hospitals, and health care facilities; under-resourced classrooms; and a shortage of child care slots. The census also helps determine rural development; planning for economic growth; and inform legislative districts and congressional apportionment. As a result of the 2010 census, Georgia gained an additional congressional seat.
Five percent of the nation’s children were undercounted in the 2010 census and it is estimated that 4.5 million children in the United States are part of a population group considered Hard To Count (HTC). This includes young children, people who live in geographically challenging or extremely rural areas, people who live in dense neighborhoods with multiple family dwellings, renters, and children whose parents show custody, live in kinship care families, or have been in the foster system.
In Georgia, where there are 2.5 million children under the age of 18, reaching those at risk of being undercounted is crucial. “Young children are at the highest risk for being undercounted because they rely on their parents or guardians to count them,” said Rebecca Rice, KIDS COUNT manager at Georgia Family Connection Partnership.
For the first time, the Census Bureau will urge most households to submit responses online. “For 2020, the Census Bureau’s goal is to make this the most technologically advanced enumeration ever, with the internet as the primary response method,” Mack said. “Because of this change, traditional outreach activities are more important than ever.”
Residents will be encouraged to respond to the census online using a computer, tablet, or smart phone. Households without internet access can go to community centers or other facilities that offer free internet access or that have partnered with the bureau or Complete Count Committees. Mack said residents can respond via telephone 24 hours a day if they call the Census Questionnaire Assistance Center. The bureau will provide online forms and telephone assistance in multiple languages.
Key to creating awareness about the importance of the census and how to respond are Complete Count Committees (CCC) that are being created across the country. These volunteer groups include government and community leaders from education, business, healthcare, and other community organizations that create an outreach plan based on the unique characteristics of the neighborhood. In November 2017 Gov. Nathan Deal formed the Governor’s Complete Count Committee, and organizations and municipalities are encouraged to do the same. For the 2010 census, there were more than 150 local CCCs in Georgia. Committees are forming throughout the state for the upcoming census.
“CCCs increase response rates through a focused, structured, neighbor-to-neighbor program,” Mack said. Local officials interested in forming a CCC can receive assistance from the Census Bureau’s Atlanta Regional Office by calling 470-889-6530 or emailing [email protected].
For more information about the U.S. Census in Georgia, go to census.georgia.gov.
For information about Georgia’s Complete Count Committee, go to census.georgia.gov/complete-count-committee.
Georgia KIDS COUNT Manager
Georgia Family Connection Partnership
GaFCP Communications Director
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About Georgia Family Connection Partnership
Georgia Family Connection Partnership (GaFCP) is a public-private partnership created by the State of Georgia and investors from the private sector to assist communities in addressing the serious challenges facing children and families. GaFCP also serves as a resource to state agencies across Georgia that work to improve the conditions of children and families. Georgia KIDS COUNT provides policymakers and citizens with current data they need to make informed decisions regarding priorities, services, and resources that impact Georgia’s children, youth, families, and communities. Georgia KIDS COUNT is funded, in part, through a grant from The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private charitable organization dedicated to helping build better futures for disadvantaged children in the United States. For more information, visit gafcp.org.